Racing with a blackjack motif?
The steering howls at me while taking the sharp turn. That last collision must’ve
knocked something loose. As I come out of the turn, I gun the engine to pull ahead,
only realizing at the last minute the mistake I just made. There, directly in
front of me, is the funnel of a tornado, and I am driving straight for it. I try
to swerve around it, but to no avail. My steering is sluggish even before my car
got damaged, now it’s even more unresponsive. As the tornado picks me up, the
world goes topsy-turvy. Maybe betting my car on this race wasn’t such a good idea
after all . . .
Devils is the latest racing game out for the Dreamcast, and although it has
some neat features, they get lost among all the wacky gimmicks this game throws
at you. With a good number of cars and tracks, there was potential here to be
a bestseller. However, poor production values and uninspired track design make
this game better to rent than to buy.
Speed Devils’ graphics are fairly well done. Since the Dreamcast is still such a new machine, we have yet to fully comprehend the full power of the system, but Speed Devils shows us a bit of what to expect in the future. All the cars have full damage modeling, though it seems almost random when and how your car gets damaged. There’s nothing like driving across the finish line with the front of your car smashed beyond recognition.
The good graphics aren’t limited to the cars, the levels themselves sport
some neat visuals. From the aforementioned tornadoes, to a reject dinosaur from
Jurassic Park, almost anything and everything stands in your way, trying
to prevent you from completing the circuit. Just don’t get too distracted by the
background to forget that you have a race to win.
And pay attention you must, because the track design is fairly bad. With sharp
90 degree turns and an unclear course layout, you may find yourself slamming into
a wall or falling off a cliff lots of times without really knowing what happened.
Instead of concentrating on track design, the designers simply came up with a
gimmick (ie. a tornado) and built the level around that. Though there are alternate
routes on each track, these alternates are more like quick shortcuts that help
you gain 2 seconds as opposed to a completely different way to go. On top of that,
every race you have to make three laps around the course. On some tracks, by the
third lap you just start wishing the race was over.
are two different race setups in Speed Devils. Arcade mode has you choose
your car and track and race to unlock new cars and tracks. With a total of 11
cars and 12 tracks, this mode has a lot of replay value. If you like playing the
game, there’s a lot of hidden stuff you can find by playing well.
There’s also Championship mode, where you earn money for each race. However,
you don’t just get money for winning. One of the interesting features is the number
of ways you can earn money besides winning the race. You get a cash bonus for
being the car that was in first the longest, that attained the highest top speed,
or that broke the speed limit in front of various radar detectors throughout the
course. On top of that, you can also gamble on the race against your competition.
Pete Rose, eat your heart out. You then use the money to fix and upgrade your
car, or even buy a brand new one. Your final goal? Well, you’ve got to beat Driver
X (no relation to Racer X) and be declared the fastest Speed Devil of all
So, why does this game fall short? A few reasons. The two-player mode is, in
a word, unexciting. Since the tracks take about two minutes a lap, and you have
to do three laps, by the middle of the race, the winner is already pretty much
decided. Since this is fantasy racing, they should have thrown in some weapons
or something to make the two-player a more exciting game. The occasional bursts
of FMV are boring too; most of the time showing footage of the cars interspersed
with shots of a blackjack table. Also, though giving the other racers personalities
and having them taunt you is cool, why isn’t it voiced? I know that there is enough
room on the disk. Reading a taunt is a lot different than hearing one.
At the finish line, Speed Devils is an above average racer, but not
much more. With pointless FMV, no speech, and long, gimmicky tracks, this game
is best left for a rental. Though many gamers will find hours of enjoyment playing
the championship mode, I wouldn’t gamble on buying it right off the bat. Now excuse
me, my subconscious is forcing me to go to Las Vegas.